Several EU countries are currently considering the implementation of stricter conditions regarding the taxation, marketing, promotion and labelling of alcohol products to combat the harmful use of alcohol. The ETRC is carefully monitoring the development of some policies which could have a disproportionate effect upon duty free and travel retail sales if they don’t take into account the specificities of the channel, such as restricted sales hours, minimum pricing and labelling schemes.
In recent years, retailers, alcohol manufacturers and industry associations have developed and implemented a series of voluntary codes and guidelines governing the responsible sale, promotion, marketing and advertising of alcohol products. “Duty free and travel retail is a unique sales channel with a number of different challenges from those in the domestic market and, therefore, it was felt essential for the industry to have its own Code of Conduct reflecting the uniqueness of the sales channel, but built on these successful initiatives to promote responsible consumption of alcohol,” explained Juul-Mortensen.
“It is important to add, I believe, that the Code of Conduct is intended to work alongside all existing codes or guidelines, and it is designed to be consistent and complementary to other such codes introduced by individual alcohol manufacturing companies and others.”
This decision is also part of a broader ongoing engagement with the EU institutions. The ETRC joined the European Alcohol and Health Forum in October 2011 to be recognised as a proactive and constructive contributor to the European alcohol policy debate. It intends to table the Code of Conduct at this Forum at its April 2012 Plenary session as its initial commitment to activities aimed at reducing the harmful effects
Ensuring a tailored retail environment
The ETRC Code of Conduct, which was officially launched on 26 January, is designed to be adopted and implemented by the full spectrum of industry players active in this retail space. All ETRC members involved in the retail sale of alcohol are obliged to adhere to the Code. “ETRC will endeavour to ensure observation of the Code throughout its members’ companies. In the event of a complaint about or observation of non-compliance by a signatory company, ETRC will take necessary steps to investigate and to seek to rectify the problem with the companies concerned,” commented Juul-Mortensen.
In practical terms, the Code establishes a set of working principles that reflect the unique circumstances of this distinct, transparent and highly regulated environment – in particular where these circumstances differ from those of the European domestic market. The Code provides guidelines in terms of commercial and in-store communications, staff training and conduct of sampling and testing.
Juul-Mortensen said: “The Code of Conduct seeks to ensure a retail environment that is both tailored to duty free and travel retail’s international customer base and capable of showcasing Europe’s alcohol-producing heritage, demonstrating the premium quality of the products available while at the same time promoting a message about their responsible consumption by adults.”
Cooperation with APTRA
The ETRC cooperated closely on the initiative with the Asia Pacific Travel Retail Association (APTRA), which simultaneously launched its own Alcohol Code of Conduct. In essence, the ETRC and APTRA Codes are very similar in seeking to ensure that retailers and producers do not encourage excessive consumption or misuse of alcohol in the duty free and travel retail channel. The two Codes were developed to respect the differences between the Asia-Pacific and the European markets in terms of regulatory requirements and cultural heritage regarding the consumption of alcohol.
“APTRA’s decision to launch a Self-regulatory Code of Conduct is driven by the will to demonstrate that the duty free and travel retail industry in the Asia-Pacific region is united in its desire to promote responsible retailing. Furthermore, in the absence of an EU-style regulatory body in the region, it is all the more important to establish an industry-wide position on important issues such as responsible retailing and responsible drinking,” explained Juul-Mortensen. “APTRA’s representation of both retailers and liquor manufacturers, among other stakeholders, enables the industry in Asia-Pacific to speak with one voice to non-governmental and governmental institutions throughout the region.”
The ETRC’s decision to launch an Alcohol Code of Conduct is part of a broader ongoing engagement with the EU institutions – notably its recent membership of the European Alcohol and Health Forum – and demonstrates that the industry is committed to introducing innovative industry practices to promote responsible retailing. It sends a strong signal of ETRC’s social engagement with its partners, and reflects its commitment to representing the interests of the duty free and travel retail industry.